NOW THE WORLD IS STANDING STILL, what are you dreaming of? Across New Zealand, you can find everything from untamed wilderness to rich culture. Inspiration in towering mountains and mist-cloaked fjords. Serenity in golden beaches curled around quiet bays. New friends in small towns with big doses of laid-back charm. When the world starts to move again, find your dream destination here. (100% PURE NEW ZEALAND, newzealand.com)
AT THE TIME OF WRITING this we’re only a few days into Level 2 in the country’s attempt to smash COVID-19, aka the corona-virus. And what a party-pooper that virus has turned out to be! All because someone (so they say) had a hankering for undercooked BBQed bat …
Regardless of how the virus turned up in the human population, its impact on the world has been almost unimaginable – the stuff of Hollywood! And while we Kiwis have gotten off lighter than many in terms of its effect on health, its effect on our economy has, and will be for some time yet, considerable. Thousands of businesses and people have been severely impacted – bankruptcies, jobs lost, dreams shattered. Whole towns, whose identity and survival are intrinsically linked to tourism, are facing an uncertain and scary future.
While cafés and hardware stores will reopen, our borders will remain closed for some time yet. And those busloads of international tourists, usually so visible throughout the country? Well, most of those coaches will remain in lockdown long after we’ve gone back to ‘normal’ life.
One of the things Wild NZ has attempted to do over the years is encourage people to explore this magnificent country that we’re lucky enough to call home. It’s often been said that New Zealanders are some of the most internationally travelled humans in the world! Our Big OE is almost a rite of passage for young Kiwis – we’ve explored most of the planet’s nooks and crannies, yet the same can’t be said about our own country. While we’ve been quick to jump on a plane and head off to Europe for a year or two, there’s been a reluctance to jump in a car and explore our own backyard.
Take it from someone who’s seen lots of the world, and lots of New Zealand. There’s a reason tourists flock to our country. And it’s not because it’s cheap – because it isn’t!
This year, my family and I were planning on heading to Indonesia for a few weeks. Why? Well, if you’d read the last issue, and my story on Only a Surfer Knows the Feeling, you’ll know that surfing is a big deal for our whānau. And Indo (particularly Bali) is a big deal for the world’s surfing culture. The idea of warm water and great waves really appealed, so we’d been working hard to make this adventure happen – you know, creating memories, fulfilling life-long dreams, etc. Anyway, good ‘ole corona-virus came along and quickly ripped the guts out of that plan.
So, while we’re a little disappointed … me in particular … the family are all keen to have a New Zealand adventure instead. (Actually, if you want to hear a little sob-story, this is the third time I’ve tried to get to Indonesia. First time: I wrote-off my car just before our trip and had to cancel. I was trying to drive through flooded Coromandel roads to get to the surf and learnt the hard way that my insurance doesn’t pay out for acts of stupidity. Second time: a volcano in Bali decided to erupt, again cancelling our plans! Anyway, it’s obviously not meant to be …)
So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to head to the tourist towns and spend some of what we would’ve spent over there HERE!
Now, I’m not trying to make out we’re these amazing philanthropic people – generous to a fault – because we’re not! We’re often pretty selfish (tbh!), but I see this as a win-win. It’s a win for us, because we get to enjoy parts of our spectacular country, and it’s a win for ‘them’, because they get some of our money – through accommodation
providers, restaurants and cafés, tour operators (bungy jump anyone?), etc. And, for some of them, our patronage (and yours!) might just be what’s needed to see them through.
As an added bonus, we won’t have to share these places with hordes of international tourists! (See, told you we were selfish!)
So, can I encourage YOU? If you were planning an international holiday, take that time (and money) and spend it here at home! And if you weren’t planning to do it, do it anyway! Go to those traditional tourist towns: like Queenstown for a Ferg-Burger … Rotorua for a race on the luge … Twizel to climb Aoraki/Mt Cook … Bay of Islands for a trip out to the Hole in the Rock … Hokitika for a pounamu necklace … Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu for a selfie … the list goes on!
Spend those hard-earned days and dollars on people and places that will REALLY appreciate it.
Remember, there’s a reason Godzone is so popular with tourists – and here’s your opportunity to see why for yourself!
It’s a WIN-WIN!